Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage self-guided 10 days

(subject to change until the booking has been finalized)

Day 1 – Tokushima (Temples 1 to 3)

Start from Kyoto or Osaka and travel by long-distance bus to Tokushima Prefecture. Begin your pilgrimage with a gentle introduction to the walks on Shikoku through quiet neighbourhoods of Tokushima. Visit three of the most eye-catching temples on whole trail – Temple 1 Ryozen-ji, Temple 2 Gokuraku-ji and Temple 3 Konsen-ji. Spend your first night as all pilgrims should – with a stay in a Shukubo Temple Lodging. There is also the option of staying at a city-centre Ryokan for this first night.

Walking distance: 5.8km / 3.6 miles
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and descent
Time required: About 2 hours

An optional additional walk along paved roads to Temple 7 Juraku-ji can extend the day by 3km / 1.9 miles and around 45 minutes.

Accommodation: Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging) or Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 – Tokushima (Temple 11 to 12)

Travel south from your Shukubo pilgrims lodging by pre-booked and pre-paid taxi to Temple 11 Fujii-dera, located at the bottom of a fascinating hillside temple complex. From Fujii-dera undertake a challenging hike to Temple 12 Shosan-ji. The full walk is one of the longest and most strenuous on the tour, but very rewarding with beautiful scenery. Walk onwards to Yorii and board a bus to the small Onsen village of Kamiyama and your inn for the evening.

Walking distance: 19.2km / 11.9 miles
Elevation gain: 1,330m / 4,365 feet of ascent and 1,210m / 3,970 feet of descent
Time required: About 7-8 hours

You can reduce the walk to 5-6 hours (14.1km / 8.8 miles) and avoid the first half of the strenuous ascent up Mt. Shosan-ji. Simply pay locally to extend the taxi ride on the day – no need to decide in advance.

Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse) or Hot-spring Ryokan (Travellers Inn) or Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 – Tokushima (Temples 20 to 21)

Travel by pre-paid taxi to one of the most beautiful and varied hikes on the entire 88 Pilgrimage route. From Temple 20 Kakurin-ji the trail descends to the hamlet of Anan, crosses the Nakagawa River and climbs again to Temple 21 Tairyu-ji. End the day with a cable car ride with wonderful views over a cedar forest and the small town below. Travel by bus to your accommodation for the evening.

Walking distance: 8.2km / 5.1 miles
Elevation gain: 460m / 1,510 feet ascent and 470m / 1,540 feet descent
Time required: About 3-4 hours

The walk can be extended to about 5 hours for clients staying in Tokushima city – please enquire if you would like to undertake this longer option.

Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers Inn) or Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 – Kagawa (Temples 82 to 80)

Leaving Tokushima, travel by bus and a pre-paid taxi to a rewarding hike in northern Kagawa Prefecture. Walk through lovely scenery and visit a fine collection of temples – Temple 82 Negoro-ji, Temple 81 Shiromine-ji and finally Temple 80 Kokubun-ji. Travel onwards by train for an overnight stay in the old hot-spring town of Kotohira Spa.

Walking distance: 13.5km / 8.4 miles
Elevation gain: 335m / 1,100 feet ascent and 655m / 2,150 feet descent
Time required: About 5 hours

The walk can be shortened by 1.5 hours (5.4km / 3.4 miles) by omitting the round-trip section to Temple 81 Shiromine-ji.

Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 – Kagawa (Kotohira Spa)

A full day to explore Kotohira Spa. Visit the Shinto shrine Konpira-dai-gongen, located halfway up Mount Zōzu at an elevation of 521 metres. Try the famous local delicacy – delicious, hand-made, thick Udon noodles. You may also wish to visit the Konpira Grand Theatre Kanamaruza Kabuki Hall, the oldest original Kabuki theatre in Japan, and Temple 75 Zentsū-ji, birthplace of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. Overnight in Kotohira Spa.

Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 – Iya Valley Onsen

Travel to and explore rural Iya Valley, deep in the mountains of Tokushima. Head onwards from Kotohira Spa by train and bus to reach Iya. Enroute to your inn, it is possible to visit iconic Kazura-bashi, a suspension bridge made of mountain vines, said in some folktales to have been places by Shingon Buddhist founder Kobo Daishi. Spend the evening at one of the wonderful Onsen inns nearby.

Accommodation: Hot-spring Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 – Ehime (Temples 57 to 58)

Leaving Kagawa, travel by train to Imabari in northern Ehime and begin your hike to Temple 57 Eifuku-ji. The walk gradually passes from urban townscape to rural farming communities before entering a forest with a steady climb to Temple 58 Senyū-ji. Visit Eifuku-ji and Senyū-ji and there is also an optional detour to Temple 56 Taisan-ji. Overnight at Senyū-ji in the Shukubo pilgrims lodgings at the temple, or alternatively stay in a western-style hotel in Imabari City.

Walking distance: 4.4km / 2.7 miles
Elevation gain: 250m / 820 feet ascent and negligible descent
Time required: About 1.5 hours

Accommodation: Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging) or Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 – Ehime (Temple 58 onwards)

The hike continues with a gentle walk down the mountain from Senyū-ji, with the opportunity to explore small village settlements on the way. Return to the town of Imabari, with an optional paved town hike on to Temple 59 Iyo Kokubun-ji and continue onwards to Matsuyama by train and overnight in Dogo Onsen. You will have time to visit the famous Dogo bathhouse and try the popular local produce – sweet Mikan oranges. Explore the hillside grounds of Matsuyama Castle and Temple 51 Ishite-ji on the Shikoku 88 which is close to your accommodation for this evening

Walking distance: 4.4km / 2.7 miles
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and 250m / 820 feet descent
Time required: About 1 hour

An optional paved walk of 4.1km (2.5 miles) can extend the hike by a further 1.5 hours.

Accommodation: Hot-spring Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9 – Ehime (Temples 45 to 44)

Head south by bus and pre-paid taxi from Matsuyama to Temple 45 Iwaya-ji, a temple closely linked to Kōbō Daishi – the priest who founded Shingon Buddhism and Mount Koya. Climb the iconic ladder to his meditation spot, with its spectacular views over the surrounding region. From Iwaya-ji, enjoy a lovely forest hike to Temple 44 Daiho-ji before returning by bus to Matsuyama in the evening. Overnight in Dogo Onsen.

Walking distance: 11.7km / 7.3 miles
Elevation gain: 650m / 2,130 feet ascent and 580m / 1,900 feet descent
Time required: About 4 hours

Accommodation: Hot-spring Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10 – Ehime (Temples 60 to 62)

The tour ends with a rewarding hike in the east of Ehime Prefecture.  Travel by bus and pre-paid taxi from Matsuyama to reach the trail and walk to Temple 60 Yokomine-ji, Temple 61 Kōon-ji and onwards to Temple 62 Hoju-ji. The walk passes through a rural area of Shikoku and the temples are in lovely natural settings. After the hike, travel onwards by train to the Kansai area, arriving mid-evening.

Walking distance: 13.7km / 8.5 miles
Elevation gain: 620m / 2,050 feet ascent and 870m / 3,850 feet descent
Time required: About 4-5 hours

You can reduce the hike by about one hour to 11.3km / 7 miles, avoiding the first uphill section. Simply pay locally to extend the taxi ride to Temple 60 Yokomine-ji. Choose on the day – no need to decide in advance.

Meals: Breakfast


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